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Caring for Otho, a Camp Host’s Story

First off, the care and feeding of Otho and service of Meeting The Need are more than a labor of love for me. They have become a deeply engrained part of my soul.

The pre-season starting Mid-May features a whole bunch of to-dos. Unpacking the camp from winter ravages can be quite extensive and requires much care. But the chance to get into “camp-ready” mode has been long anticipated and now much appreciated.

A typical day begins with an early morning tour of the camp to assess and prioritize needs. Depending on what’s on that list and what may come up during the day, life can tend to get interesting.

My morning inspection crew, Joe the dog and Dancer the much larger dog.


Post-inspection, breakfast usually turns into a strategy meeting once again prioritizing the to dos along with the overall long-term needs for Otho.

Our first priority, each day, is our campers’ needs and comfort. We take plenty of time to check in with their group to ensure that everything is provided for and no one is wanting. The focus is making sure their experience is top notch at all times.

Next it is essential to monitor trash collection and the restocking of each and every needed item of supply for the group’s necessities.

On camper check out days, the entire camp gets the once, twice and thrice over. All beds need to be stripped and laundered and the cabins and meeting areas are all cleaned head-to-toe. This is a deep cleaning to make sure all is perfect and spotless for the next group coming.

My wife, Ella, heads the beautification team and makes sure all is gleaming, fully stocked and in perfect order for the next group of campers.

Some team members tend to take things a little easier than others.


A camping resort of this type requires acres and acres of constant care. From mowing and trimming to the many, many labor-intensive maintenance items constantly heading the list, there are always tasks topping the pile and being dispatched in orderly fashion.

Maintaining older buildings of the type here at Otho can be painstaking and detail rich. Our team takes great care to honor the tradition and history of Otho at every turn of the screwdriver or wrench.

Constant projects and needs include trimming and manicuring the property’s many trees for health and beauty along with weed abatement and flowerbed care. And, again, the many building repairs are always a substantial list as are the maintenance of the many, many lineal feet of decks and walkways that keep mobility fluid and easy throughout the camp.

From top to bottom the to do list is packed heavy from season open in Spring until the softly falling fall snow asks us to put away the equipment and button down for winter.

Unmistakeable signs it’s time to put away the mowers and break out the shovels.


Though sometimes seeming daunting, this immense labor of love is never a burden and never resented. For the chance to keep this ever breathtaking destination in top form is an honor and privilege. Because seeing the looks of wonder and joy on our campers faces upon first view of Otho up to their trip end gratitude at having a venue for such an experience is, well, like money in the bank!

A wise man once said, “Find a job that you enjoy and you’ll never work another day in your life”. With that in mind, I believe I’ll be banging around Otho for a long time to come…God and Dallas willing.

Part of the crew. They may not make for fast work but they definitely make for fast fun! And smooth travel for our dear friends on wheels. The wooden pathways must be perfect!


Vern Shafer, MTN Board Member and Otho Camp Director

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Debra Dietrich
Debra Dietrich
Mar 06, 2021

Wow this is beautiful and no one really knows the amount of work you do on daily basis! Thank you for a peek in the life!

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